I’ve written a series of articles on the editing process for a publisher I worked for, Crystal Publishing, and they were kind enough to let me re-post the articles here on my blog. Here is the first installment. See the full newsletter at the link above.
Every editor and publishing company has somewhat different protocols when it comes to editing. But the primary facets of the editing process are generally the same. Editors typically work through three different levels of editing: Content or developmental editing, copyediting, and proofreading. In this series, we will consider each of these types of editing, what you should expect from your editor, and what is expected of you, the author.
First, let’s talk about the basics.
What should you expect from an editor?
You should expect that your editor will do everything in their power to make your manuscript better. They are not trying to steal your work or stifle your voice. When they make suggestions, they are not trying to tell you that you are a horrible writer. They want to help you elevate your writing to the next level. A lot of comments means a lot of care. If an editor thought there was no hope for you or your manuscript, they would not put so much effort into helping you reach your potential.
You should also expect that editing will take time. A manuscript cannot be edited overnight. Regardless of the fact that most editors are working on multiple projects at any given time, a quality edit cannot be rushed. Your editor or publisher should give you an idea of the project timeline, and then you should leave them to work. If you want to check in, an email once a week is sufficient. Multiple calls, dozens of messages, and scores of emails a day are both unprofessional and inappropriate. When they have questions or problems, your editor will contact you. Do not pester your editor or publisher.
What does an editor expect from you?
Your editor expects that you will be willing to listen to suggestions, that you will not reject the majority of their suggestions outright. They do not expect you to accept every single suggestion they make. Their advice is meant to act as a guideline to help you improve—they fully expect that some recommendations will not resonate with you. They also expect—and perhaps even hope—that you will take their input and go beyond it. Your editor does not want to be your ghost writer. Feel free to take the essence of what they have suggested and make it your own.
Your editor expects you to work as hard as they do, if not harder. It is your book, after all. When you have your editor’s comments in hand, consider them carefully and work to revise your manuscript accordingly.
Both you and your editor have the same end goal: to make your book the best it can be. Be patient, be polite, and be professional. As you work together, you can both make that dream a reality.
Next in the series: Developmental Editing!